May 2nd, 2012
04:18 PM ET

North Carolina pastor retracts sermon remarks about punching gay kids

By Stephen Walsh, CNN

(CNN) - A Fayetteville, North Carolina, pastor has retracted controversial language used during a weekend sermon in which he instructed parents to hit children who exhibited behavior associated with homosexuality.

“I apologize to anyone I have unintentionally offended,” Sean Harris, pastor of Berean Baptist Church wrote in a statement on his church’s website. “I did not say anything to intentionally offend anyone in the LGBT community.

“My intent was to communicate the truth of the Word of God concerning marriage,” the statement continued. “My words were not scripted. It is unfortunate I was not more careful and deliberate.”

Harris’s remarks at his church came a week before the state’s voters consider an amendment to North Carolina’s constitution limiting legal unions to marriage between a man and a woman.

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"The second you see your son dropping that limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist," Harris said in the Sunday sermon. "Man up. Give him a good punch."

"You’re not going to act like that," the pastor advised parents to tell their children. "You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”

In an interview with the Fayetteville Observer, Harris said his comments were meant as a joke. In a video of the sermon posted online, laughter can be heard from some members of the congregation, as well as cries, of “Amen!” as the pastor spoke about responding to seemingly gay kids.

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Berean Baptist explains its stance on discipline of children on its website:

“Remembering the love and forgiveness that God has shown them, parents in turn should train their children with the purpose of reflecting the Heavenly Father to their children. Parents should consider their responsibility to be the instrument of discipline in their child’s life (Prov. 19:18). At times this may include appropriate and reasonable physical means (Prov. 10:13) employed upon the fleshy portion of the child’s buttocks (Prov. 22:15; 23:13); that this method is to be viewed as correction rather than punishment (Prov. 23:13); and that this correction will result in the child’s physical and spiritual betterment.”

Harris told the Observer that from within his church, "the response was, 'Pastor, we know you didn't mean that.'"

What do you think? Watch the above video to hear Harris’s remark and leave your comments below.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality

soundoff (2,325 Responses)
  1. MDNC

    Just another good Baptist who is going to rot in hell. He'll have lots of company.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      That's why people invented the concept of hell, so that evil people who did not get what they deserved on earth would get it in the afterlife, and people here would be placated and not act to stop the evil. Obviously that concept is most beneficial to the evil people, so guess who invented it?

      May 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. SurelyUjest

    Jesus would be appalled by this guy and his congregation.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      How about stretching that to most Christians.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  3. just sayin

    If you see a person acting delusional, hearing voices and feeling a spirit...walk over and punch them...set them straight.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      NO! This is the modern era, and we don't do crude things like hitting people! We taze them. Better living through technology.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  4. ironfray

    Exactly the love that God wanted in all of us, amen.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      God Bless Jesus's right hook.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  5. Grampa

    It's amazing that clowns like this actually think of themselves as Christians.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Actually, it isn't surprising at all, it's pretty typical.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  6. BobFromPA

    I'm appalled that no one in the congregation stood up and told that man he is an IDIOT not a preacher. I still can't believe people follow this kind of trash! The day the Catholic church told me that anyone who was not Catholic and was a heretic and were going to hell was the day I renounced all Christian and Jewish religion because they are all from and bound to the same book of fairy tales and out right lies.

    May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  7. Kita

    It's "I apologize for what I said", NOT "I apologize if you were offended by what I said". That's like saying "I'm sorry your nose is broken because I punched you"...

    I find it strange how so many people boast about how Christian they are when they manage to be as un-Christlike as possible.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • momoya

      Yep.. The t.itle of the article is a lie.. Stupid CNN.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Tad

      Kita, I will you an AMEN. I have felt this way all my life. I was raised in the Baptist church and always thought: how can you teach a Christian message and do something entirely different in real life. People need to be taught to be tolerant of others...just because they are different does not mean they are going to Hell and we all need to stop judging based on our own ruler!

      May 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  8. tfbuckfutter

    I'd prefer to see pastors punched when they start exhibiting bigoted tendencies.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Bob


      May 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  9. SurelyUjest

    I guess the days of hating the sin, and loving the sinner are over? This guy is not only not joking here, he is politically motivated to make some tax paying members of society have less rights than everyone else. Love is wrong because it is love that he does not understand or agree with. Love is the answer to all humanity's problems. Christians, muslims and Jews continue to spew hate and make violent remarks towards anyone who is different. I am tired of being told what to believe and how to practice my faith.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  10. K3Citizen

    Where in the bible does it specifically say women can't be together? Every scripture I read says man shall not lay with another man. I guess girl on girl is acceptable to watch at a teen retreat.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  11. Mark Namhie

    It's unfortunate he even has an audience. Anyone who would attend his sermons and listen passively to such Neanderthal and hate filled speech is just as confused and ignorant as this man is. Speak with your feet, congregants. Get up and leave!

    May 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  12. Bob

    "Sorry I got caught"

    May 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  13. 69amcrebel


    May 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  14. Pat

    He better be careful – if I see him I'd hit him REAL good.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  15. nc

    The word of God??? More like the word of people...

    May 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Same thing

      May 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  16. ShineOn75

    he needs to come out of the closet.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  17. BFS

    Sean Harris needs to be reminded of the greatest commandment – Love. With people like him around, is it any wonder the Christian church is losing members right and left?

    May 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  18. *frank*

    "parents in turn should train their children with the purpose of reflecting the Heavenly Father to their children."
    In the pastor's defense, delivering cruel, stupid, and unjustified punishment to completely innocent people-children and infants included--IS a perfect reflection of what the christian god does in the bible..........

    May 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Pretty good summary lol.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Roden

      LOL, "Amen"

      May 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  19. jenkoosh

    Exactly why I take refreshing walks on the beach instead of going to church these days ... FREE YOURSELF.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      Good for you. Excellent decision

      May 2, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • J.W

      My church is my beach.

      May 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Insight

      You will finally understand the universe as it truly is if you look at your beautiful beach and say "this is a beach," instead of looking at your beautiful beach and saying "this is God."

      May 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • just sayin

      I used to waste (conservative figure/prob much more) a month + worth a time a year on the Sky God...before my eyes were openned. Haven't looked back and enjoying the extra time. 🙂

      May 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • ironfray

      "My church is my beach"..... yeah.. I'll just leave it right there while I pack for the real beach.

      May 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  20. jms58

    If your ar4 stupid enough to believe in a diety, you should be punched. Everyone punch the preacher.

    May 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.